Visual Comforts

When traditionalist residential and interior designers take on a midcentury modern pied-à-terre, they forgo the frills to create a chic study in contrasts

When residential designer William Litchfield and interior designer Carolyn Malone were asked to renovate an apartment in Plaza Towers for homeowners with whom they had a longstanding relationship with, it felt just right. Taking a more modern approach than with the family’s past projects, the duo found ways to add sophisticated style to the celebrated 1960s Buckhead high-rise while still honoring its midcentury design. “This is one of my favorite buildings in Atlanta,” says Litchfield. “It has very clean lines and wonderfully simple details. We decided to have fun and go modern with this city apartment.”

Despite constraints, the designers were able to make a clean sweep by taking the 2,000-square-foot space down to its bones and reimagining it for their client’s needs. Aiming to make the space feel bigger, Litchfield raised the height of door openings, eliminated a wall between the former dining room and kitchen and carved out recesses to accommodate a banquette and bar. These decisions, along with new 4-by-4-foot Italian concrete tile floors and strategically placed mirrors set the foundation for crisp appointments with glamorous undertones.

For continuity, Malone only used two paint colors throughout the home—Pure White and Urbane Bronze, both Sherwin-Williams. Fixtures and furnishings continue the play of contrasts.

Malone established the mood in the entry by converting the conventional space into a gallery hall. Here, the dark lacquered walls and ceiling host a collection of photography, standouts thanks to their stark white frames. In the dining and kitchen area, a banquette upholstered in bright white faux ostrich sits opposite the dark kitchen wall. “The copper ribbed tiles have a shimmer to them—much like the lacquered walls and cabinets,” says Malone.

In the adjacent living room, furnishings and accessories are equally sleek and sculptural. A sectional sofa so large that it had to be hoisted in by crane dominates the space while a burled walnut cocktail table offers the appearance of three individual pieces. A triptych of framed, salvaged aluminum ceiling panels underscores the modern architecture with their industrial, curvilinear forms.

For entertaining, a custom crocodile-embossed leather bar finds a prominent spot in a recessed niche featuring a series of step-backs. “We wanted something sophisticated that made you feel like you were away from home and in the city,” says Malone.  

While public spaces focus on entertaining, bedrooms are well-appointed, restful retreats. In the second bedroom, a pair of twin beds are cocooned in an envelope of Urbane Bronze and swaths of bronze linen. Despite the small space, the home lives large thanks to intentional design strategies and a restrained use of materials and colors. Says Malone, “We stayed true to the building’s contemporary design, but we put our own spin on it.”

INTERIOR DESIGN Carolyn Malone, Carolyn Malone Antiques and Interiors, (404) 264-9509;
RESIDENTIAL DESIGN William B. Litchfield, William B. Litchfield Residential Designs, Inc., (404) 467-4600;